Bitdefender Total Security 2012 – Indepth Review
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In a nutshell
With its Total Security 2012 package, Bitdefender is staking a claim as the most straightforward way to protect your PC from the nasties lurking on the internet, and it’s got a bag of tricks that power users will love. For most people though, the main selling point is that the only time it’ll ask for your attention is if it’s actually spotted a problem. If that’s all you really want out of an antivirus, you’d do just as well to pick up their basic package which carries the same feature for the princely sum of ‘zero’, but if you want all the extras which come with the premium package in the range, it’s well worth a look, and you can >>>>>>pick it up here<<<<<<. We give Bitdefender a full workout in our review below.
Bitdefender might not have the highest name-recognition in the antivirus market, but its Total Security 2012 suite is a compelling offering all the same. As well as doing pretty much everything its better-known rivals can do, it packs a few secret weapons of its own. It also fares well in real-world tests, identifying, uprooting and despatching most malware with ease – although it’s outperformed by some competitors in one or two tests.
One thing Bitdefender certainly doesn’t like to do is share. When you run the installation file the wizard will howl in protest if you’ve any other antivirus programs installed. In a way this might be no bad thing, because it forces you to use an advanced cleanup tool like Revo or Advanced Uninstaller to ensure your system’s free of any remnants of antivirus or antimalware programs you might have installed along the way, but it does mean that you can’t be sure of a clean install until you’ve done that. There’s also no way in this version to install multiple versions of the program side by side.
As with last year’s version of the software, you can tweak the installation in pretty much any way you care to think of, but this time it defaults to a standard ‘vanilla’ installation unless you specifically tell it not to. The whole process is quick, too, clocking in at about two minutes (even allowing for the brief interlude where you register your details) – a significant saving on the four minutes that the previous version required. During installation, the program conducts a quick sweep of your machine to check that you haven’t already got a virus issue – a nice, confidence-inspiring touch.
Another nice touch is that when we came to uninstall our test package (a painless process in itself), it offered to restart our default firewall and antivirus software for us on its way out. However, we noticed that we needed to give the machine another onceover with Revo to clear out a few loose ends the uninstaller left in the registry.
Design, organisation and use
Nobody could accuse the Bitdefender series of being unduly concerned with consistency. Just as last year’s edition showed off a new interface, the 2012 edition has also put on a new set of clothes. Thankfully, the best of last year’s innovations (the module-based approach which made it so easy to power through your processes) remains, but other than that, it looks like the whole interface has been rethought again.
The program has had a serious, dark paintjob, which looks appropriate for the task at hand, and the option to toggle between Intermediate and Advanced views has been binned, leaving the program looking less cluttered and more straightforward. That straightforwardness has also been carried through into the way the program keeps you abreast of what’s happening on your computer.
The top of the program window is dominated by a prominently-displayed status ring which changes colour to let you know if your system is happy and secure (in which case it will show a reassuring green), has problems which need your attention (yellow), or if there is a security problem which needs your immediate attention (surprise, surprise – red). It’s an improvement over its predecessor, which was fussy and unduly complicated, but we still find ourselves scratching our heads when the yellow light flashes – surely something either needs addressing or it doesn’t?
The program’s functions and options are organised under three headings (Events, Settings, and Auto Pilot), which run across the top bar, to the right of the status ring. Click on Events and you’ll be shown a comprehensive list of security events that have happened recently. If any of them require your input, they’ll be highlighted with a red notification pop-up.
The Settings panel allows you to change how the program behaves, and being organised around the same options displayed in the main view, it’s very ergonomically designed. The settings menu is organised logically and thematically, with each tab revealing its contents when clicked, and individual preferences can be easily configured. Using the on-screen slider to choose between Aggressive, Normal and Permissive virus scanning is simplicity itself. We talk about the Auto Pilot below, in features.
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Beneath that top row sit the program’s various security modules, which – as noted above – you can organise to your liking by simply dragging them around, so that the four functions you use most often are displayed most prominently. By default, Antivirus, Firewall, Antispam, and Update are all visible and we suspect that will work for most users anyway. Of course, whatever arrangement you choose, you can easily access the other modules just by clicking on the arrow to the right of the window. The modules are nicely designed, with a smart, consistent look and feel.
Program features and support services
Bitdefender Total Security 2012 is the premium package in the range, and it carries a suitably impressive range functions. This means you get bells and whistles like an advanced spam blocker, phishing detection and protection, chat encryption, a tool to optimise your system, a file encryption system, online file backup, firewall, parental controls, and configurable scan levels.
We mentioned earlier that things haven’t changed too much on the visuals-front since last year, and in fact the same goes for functionality too. The only big new feature this year is what Bitdefender calls “Auto Pilot”, a clever bit of kit that that can address most of the problems the program encounters without needing any intervention from you, so you can relax without being constantly pestered by notifications and alerts, safe in the knowledge that the program has your back (there’s also a gaming mode which turns off notifications, but not alerts). Auto Pilot is engaged by default, so once you’ve got the program up and running you might never need to look at it again, but of course if you want more control you can just turn it off by flicking the toggle on the home screen.
As with last year’s edition, Bitdefender 2012’s virus scanning is mainly conducted in the cloud, complemented by scans that also take place on your machine. It’s a smart program too: once it’s taken a look at a file and deemed it safe, Bitdefender doesn’t just whitelist it indefinitely. Instead it periodically reviews these ‘safe’ files to check that they haven’t been infected in the interim. Improvements in this edition include an update to the virus detection engine which can now inspect running processes, and the fact that the program’s own processes now run in the kernel, which not only reduces its appetite for system resources, but also means that malware has a harder time sneaking past it.
In a couple of areas, tools that used to exist as external add-ons have been helpfully integrated into the main program. That includes replacing the browser-specific Firefox and Internet Explorer add-ons with a module that gives protection to all the major browsers. The Safego too has been incorporated into the main program, and checks links in your Facebook news and wall feed. Support for other social networks is also in the works. Both this and the Bitdefender Android app are free to use. Since a major source of vulnerability is out of date software, software patches and drivers, the program scans for these and tells you if anything needs updating.
There have been a few welcome changes to the rescue mode too, which adds an option to boot into Linux, and – when needed – allows you to reboot the computer into a secure Linux environment so that stubborn rootkits can be painlessly removed.
Only one change in the 2012 suite is exclusive to the Total Security version of the software, and that’s the Safebox feature, which now works a little like Dropbox, syncing your files across multiple computers as well as storing (free of charge) up to two gigabytes’ worth of files up to the cloud, syncing each time it detects changes. (It’s worth noting that most comparable antivirus suites offer a similar service.) In any case, it’s a nice extra.
Like some of its competitors, Bitdefender has cut back in its support offering with this edition. Where last year’s version offered video guides inside the program itself, you’ll now have to go online to find them, and the telephone number for customer support is hard to find (it’s hidden in the depths of the Bitdefender website). The same goes for the link for live chat support. You might think these are incidental, but if your connection goes down, the value of easily available telephone contact details would become rather more apparent.
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Now, features and appearance are certainly important, but in the world of antivirus programs, it’s speed and effectiveness that really count. Note that the detection engine used in Bitdefender Total Security 2012 is the same as in the other 2012 editions of Bitdefender software, so this section of the review would apply equally to them.
As noted above, the installation process includes an initial scan of your machine. Our test saw Bitdefender complete this in a little over 3 minutes, though when we installed and uninstalled it a couple of times, the scan took longer than 4 minutes each time.
Average completion time for the Quick scan was 2 minutes 10 seconds, over three runs (about twice as long as last year’s edition took), and the program managed to complete its Deep scan in an smidgen over an hour and a half (averaging 1 hour, 32 minutes, 21 seconds over three attempts), which was about a third longer than the time that last year’s edition managed.
So while Bitdefender gave an acceptable performance, a little more pace wouldn’t have gone amiss. We should point out that last year’s tests were conducted on a 64bit Windows 7 installation, and our test machine has since been updated to Service Pack 1, so some of the differences could be attributable to that. However, the results should nonetheless be reasonably comparable.
Bitdefender Total Security 2012 managed a Full scan time of 920 seconds – not exactly mindblowing, perhaps, but certainly competitive. For comparison, its Antivirus Plus incarnation managed 996 seconds, while Internet Security 2011 hit 969 seconds.
When it came to the program’s impact on other processes, though, things didn’t look quite so rosy. For example, installing Total Security increased the boot time of our test machine by over 20 seconds, and increased shutdown time by 25 seconds. (While this might not sound too terrible in itself, a quick look at last year’s scores shows a marked deterioration in performance – its 2011 incarnation slowed boot time by a comparatively modest 6 seconds and its impact on shutdown was a mere 2.25 seconds.)
However, the program’s impact on the performance of standard programs like Microsoft Office, iTunes, media multitasking, and Cinebench, was much less problematic – and in fact Bitdefender showed some of the fastest performance we’ve seen this year.
All tests results are in seconds, except for Cinebench (where a higher number is better)
To gauge the effectiveness of Bitdefender’s anti-malware systems, we’ll review the results from three independent testing labs: AV-Comparatives.org, Dennis Technology Labs, and AV-Test.org. Bear in mind that Bitdefender 2012 is one of the first antivirus suites to have been released so far this season, so comparisons and ratings could potentially change over the coming months. Absolute scores are, of course, unaffected.
The most recent (June 2011) “Whole Product test”* by AV-Comparatives.org, found that Bitdefender 2011 blocked 98.8% of the attacks and threats it was subjected to, making it one of the top four suites tested this year, behind only F-Secure, Panda, and Trend Micro. Meanwhile, looking at all tests between January 2011 and June 2011, Bitdefender 2011 blocked 99.1% of threats, coming in second, and was only narrowly beaten to the number one spot by F-Secure. (*This test assesses a suite’s on-demand scanning, retroactive tests, and “real-world” guards including cloud-based protections.)
Bitdefender also came fourth in Dennis’s test of premium suites, behind Norton 360 v5, Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2011, and ESET Smart Security v4, though it was still a solid performer. (And of course, given that the Norton suite was updated about six months after its competitors, in March 2011, and that ESET has benefited from regular updates since its last major update in April 09, it’s perhaps not a completely fair fight.)
Meanwhile tests conducted in the first half of 2011 by AV-Test.org all tended to show Bitdefender as a high performer. AV-Test.org divides its tests into three areas: ‘Protection’, which covers static and dynamic malware detection, including real-world zero-day attack testing; ‘Repair,’ which focuses in depth on system disinfection and rootkit removal; and ‘Usability’, which includes both system slowdown and the number of false positives.
Testing it out on Windows 7 installation, they gave Bitdefender a maximum 6 points for Protection, 5.5 out of 6 on Usability, and 4 out of 6 for Repair, which adds up to an impressive total of 15.5 out of 18, well over the 11 point threshold required to earn AV-Test.org certification, and the best overall showing in the first three months of 2011.
In the following quarter, tested on a Windows XP install, Bitdefender 2011 did even better, again hitting the full 6 for Protection and 5.5 for Usability, but this time clearing 5.5 for Repair as well, giving it a total score of 17 out of 18, and again putting it in pole position.
Results from AV-Test’s tests from the last three months aren’t finalised, but early indications are that Bitdefender has continued its run of good form. In July 2011 it detected an impressive 99.53% of malware, which beats the category average of 96.14%. It removed 93.6% of live infections, comfortably beating the industry average of 80.7%, and winkled out 90% of rootkits, which sounds impressive but actually conforms to the industry average. Bitdefender definitely appears to be leading the pack on the zero-day defence front, holding off 100% of attacks thrown at it, where the average in the tests was 85.7%. Bitdefender didn’t flag any false-positives either.
Summing it all up, AV-Test’s tests showed that Bitdefender 2012 was a very solid security solution, building once more on the gains made by the 2011 edition over the 2010 version of the software.
This spread of independent testing suggests that Bitdefender has been doing its core job extremely well over the testing period, meaning that it’s a very good option if your main concern is watertight security (to pick up a copy and see for yourself, >>>>>>Click Here>>>>>>). That said, we can’t overlook the fact that Bitdefender seems to have slid backwards in terms of its impact on general system performance, making boot-up and shutdown times significantly longer, which might mean that for users who are less concerned with security, the pain outweighs the gain.
Summary and conclusion
In its Total Security 2012 incarnation, Bitdefender offers all the features a modern antivirus should, as well as a few more besides. It might not churn through every task as quickly as one might hope, but in the important area – security – it scores very highly indeed. That, together with the Auto Pilot system which makes keeping your computer virus-free a breeze, makes this a pretty compelling offer. So if you’re looking for a top-notch computer security solution, it’s a very good option. You can pick up a copy >>>>>>by clicking here<<<<<<.
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